Monday, March 26, 2007


So after two months of planning, running around, signing and signing off, the party came off without a hitch... 171 people, no problems, and just a whole lot of fun.

There were some who were MIA, due to travel problems, sickness, timing issues and/or difficulties with getting everything straightened out, but overall we had a great crowd and a great party.

We rolled in around quarter to nine Saturday night, hung around with a few early arrivals, handled all the last-minute details with the head of the club, and then around 9:30 people started streaming upstairs. By 10ish, the party was 25 or so strong, and by 11 it was loud and hoppin'.

There were some minor issues with food and drink specials, as per usual; and there were the occasional wallflowers who we did our best to ingratiate with the remainder of the crowd. But overall everyone seemed to have a good time, and the club owner was very impressed by the fact that we filled the room until 3:30AM. Our last party at Club Iguana was an anomaly; everything was going well from 9:30 to midnight when the doors burst open and the public invaded the space, rendering any hope or semblance of a cohesive group useless. So our last party basically died around 12:30AM. This time around, however, the room was ours until closing -- 4:00AM -- and we had at least 30 or 40 people hanging around to 3:30 and they would have stayed around later had we not agreed to Last Call. Kaia had gone home around 12:30 or 1AM because we'd had a long day and she'd spent the night meeting, greeting and hanging out with a good number of the attendees, so I was ready to leave once the club owner suggested we call it.

I was really thrilled; assembling a number of people in that space was a dicey proposition. We knew the upstairs space was going to be perfect but we weren't sure how many people would come out after our last shindig; the rainy weather wasn't helping and it was a bit cold so we weren't sure if we'd get as many as we expected, but 171 people later -- plus my co-host and I, and Kaia and our friend Heidi -- wound up with a profoundly rewarding six hours of party-time. There were the usual hook-ups and the unusual ones (sshhhhh), but overall I was jazzed from start to finish. When we grabbed the mic from the DJ to give our regular Thanks For Coming shpiel, it really made me happy to see the response we received, and the response on an individual basis thereafter letting us know how much each of the attendees appreciated what we had managed to pull off.

My only disapppointment of the night was that I didn't have more alone time with Kaia, but as per usual, she was understanding and nothing but supportive; I worked the room along with my co-host to make sure everyone had every- and anything they needed, and it paid off. I'm looking forward to our next one, and even more importantly, I'm looking forward to spending some alone time with Kaia before she heads back to San Fran.

At this point the mass evacuation of all the party-goers is most likely complete; my Internet connection pooped out -- sort of -- so I'll try to get pictures up at some point soon. Meanwhile, if I've been and continue to be slow to keep this space updated, I apologize; I've been spending as much time with Kaia as possible prior to her trip back to San Fran. I'll try to keep updates regular and informative for your reading pleasure ;)

Check back soon :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Day After

Normally I wouldn't be brief, but being that this past week has sped by, there's too much to cover. Kaia's in town and we celebrated my birthday quietly yesterday. First we went to brunch with my sister, then since my mom had been feeling sick we told them to skip coming into NYC for dinner and rescheduled for during the week, and then chilled out for the rest of the day. We did some walking around and got some stuff for Kaia's back, which was bothering her, and we ended up basically just spending a nice quiet Saturday together.

I got some goodies for my birthday but I won't enumerate -- suffice to say that as nice as the goodies are, the real birthday present was spending it with my other half. I'm fighting a cold so I am kicking back and relaxing, but all I really wanted -- and got -- was to spend time with her, so I'm very much a happy camper.

Thank you to everyone who sent cards -- paper, electronic, etc. -- and for thinking of me. 'Twas and is very much appreciated :)

It's nice knowing there are so many good people out there who care about me -- that, most of all, made this a great birthday, and I again want to thank each of you and let each of you know how much I appreciate you.

Oh, and happy fargin' St. Patrick's Day ;-)


Monday, March 12, 2007

Sacrilege At The Waldorf

Tonight, March 12th, was a bittersweet night in the annals of the annual Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies. The sweet, of course, was the induction of Van Halen, among others, into the Hall. With the sweet, however, the bitter was the fact that of the five members of Van Halen -- the original four members including Eddie and Alex Van Halen, bassist Michael Anthony and original lead singer David Lee Roth -- the only two individuals to accept Van Halen's induction were two former members of the band, the aforementioned Michael Anthony and David Lee Roth's replacement, Sammy Hagar.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is an annual celebration of rock as much as the Oscars are a celebration of film. The only difference is the theme of the Oscars, in general, is a gala paying tribute to the majesty of film and its surrounding personality. The Induction Ceremony, on the other hand, pays tribute to the achievement of musical performers, but it does so with a similar sense of reverence, but without the proper, polite, restrained praise; the feeling in the audience is, typically, akin to a pot about to boil over.

I'm not sure why these ceremonies are as restrained or as oddly entertaining as they are. What I do know, however, is that some of my favorite performers have been involved in them, either as inductors or inductees. The Yardbirds, Cream and Eric Clapton himself have been inducted; The Beatles; Led Zeppelin; Stevie Wonder; The Eagles; Bruce Springsteen; U2. The list is nearly endless. Watching the post-ceremony jam, a tradition, sends shivers up my spine as I watch the surviving members of Led Zeppelin -- Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones -- bounce around the stage with Neil Young for a makeshift version of When The Levee Breaks. This year, however, was not simply about celebration; it was about loss and noting who was not present for the ceremony.

The deaths this past year of Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records, and James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, were among a notable number of people who passed away since the last ceremony. However, more importantly, the absence of Eddie Van Halen, who currently is in rehab for an undisclosed condition, and his brother Alex, assured that Van Halen, the band named after them, was inducted without either of them in attendance. Velvet Revolver jammed to "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" and then Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony followed with "Why Can't This Be Love" but it was very strange watching the tribute to Van Halen and the only member of the actual Van Halen family in attendance was in the non-personage of a Fender Eddie Van Halen model guitar in the house (sported by Velvet Revolver's Dave Kushner).

Despite the inductions of Patti Smith and REM, perhaps the most odd thing about tonight's ceremony is the between-set broadcasts of past inductions, and I was transfixed watching the aforementioned Led Zeppelin induction jam with Neil Young as well as a stirring rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Let Me Love You, Baby" by Buddy Guy, a seated BB King and Eric Clapton. Perhaps the best one of them all was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from 2004 led by Jeff Lynne & Tom Petty (with a searing solo by, of all people, Prince). As much as I was looking forward to watching (and hearing) tonight's ceremony, I came away longing for DVD's of the prior inductions.

I suppose, in retrospect, it demonstrates to me that, unlike movies, rock and roll is a fluid, elusive, dangerous beauty that can't always be captured on a spur of the moment; that unpredictability, that random, reactive, combustible formula which emerges as part of our culture and our collective consciousness -- it is something to be celebrated and appreciated, and it is something not to be dolled up and taken for a stroll. The ultimate irony is celebrating and rewarding, like Mick Jagger observed at the Rolling Stones induction, 25 years of bad behavior by requiring artists being on their best behavior, at no less than the Waldorf.

It's an odd nostalgia, a bittersweet, fleeting flash into memory of seeing Bono perform with Bruce Springsteen; seeing Jason Bonham on the drums behind Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; seeing Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey flail away onstage as if they were 19 when they were more like 59. Very strange...a warm, odd, happy, awkward cavalcade of memory and the past.


Digits for The Weekend, Digits for Life

This weekend saw, a la The Matrix, the advent stream of a variety of numbers whose varied significance is worth noting within the ebb and flow of our lives:

1: The number of hours we had to set our clocks ahead (3, another number, weeks early). Yawn.

4: The Final Four tournament, aka March Madness, is now locked in and ready to proceed;

300: The number of Spartans desperately defending their homeland in the Zack Snyder-directed, Frank Miller-authored story of the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC (yet another number). And while we're at it, the number 1 represents where this film landed in box office earnings (translated to yet another number, 70,000,000). That's a lot of zeros. I haven't seen it but it looks bitchin' -- and despite the lousy reviews, that's not relevant to me. After all, the one thing that the aforementioned 300 Spartans can't confront are critics.

25: The number of games Islander forward Chris Simon was suspensed by the NHL for his stick attack on the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg. The last two major on-ice incidents (involving, respectively, Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley and Donald Brashear) resulted each in suspensions of 23 games. What's next, the NHL bans the offending player for life? Mr. Simon's ban, by the way, will cost him another number: $82,000. That's not nearly enough zeros.

5: The number of days until my birthday. More importantly, the number 3 -- the number of days until Kaia gets into NYC.

Of the aforementioned numbers, there's only one that concerns me; the rest are just plain-ol' digits. Any others I'm missing, please let me know :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

One Swing, Out!

The majority of readers who happen by these parts don't partake in the NHL. Hockey is, when looking at the big picture, the red-headed stepchild that doesn't get to go to the dance. Yet for me, despite my love for baseball, football and even basketball, the truth is that hockey -- even insignificant games early in the pro season -- can be more exciting than anything the "Big Three" sports have to offer.

Tonight, however, was a different story. Regional rivalries -- like the Yankees and Mets in New York, the Cubs and White Sox in Chicago, and the Rangers and the Devils (and the Islanders) in New York, permeate and flavor whatever otherwise vanilla aspirations early-season games may offer, resulting in a variety of memorable moments, some for reasons better than others.

Tonight's game between the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders was a late-season game with significant playoff implications. As a result, the terse, palpable pressure that normally fills the ice and the stands, especially in a match-up between these two teams, was ratcheted up a notch or five.

So late in the game, when the Rangers' Ryan Hollweg checked the Islanders' Chris Simon (a former Ranger) into the boards, Simon returned to his feet and readied himself. When Hollweg spun back towards Simon to check him again, Simon suddenly snapped and swung his stick as if he was chopping down a tree. The shaft of his stick caught Hollweg in the mouth, dropping him instantly, and immediately the referees sprinted to Simon to insure he wouldn't be attacked by the balance of the Ranger players on the ice. They were a bit late, but managed to prevent further carnage.

Why is this such a significant incident in the otherwise storied history between these two teams?

For one, Chris Simon is -- not surprisingly -- known as a "goon." That means he is not on the ice per se for his skating, passing and/or shooting skills but instead for his proclivity and his skill in the art of beating the shit out of players wearing another team's sweater. The "art" -- if you will -- of fighting in hockey is alive and well, but for the wrong reasons.

Without going into too much detail, the game of hockey has and always will be policed by its players. That means that if a guy on their team hits a guy on your team in a way that most players consider a cheap shot, someone will return the favor and hit that player in a similar manner. It's the age-old notion of an eye for an eye, or two wrongs make a right. It doesn't make much sense, mind you; but there are plenty of occasions when the referees don't see marginal or line-crossing plays, and the players send messages to one another, player by player and team by team. The notion of violence begatting violence is never more present than on the ice during a typical NHL game. The thought process, however, is not to instill violence in the game, but rather prevent it with the threat of retaliation. Think power as its own deterrent, like the immense arms race which showed two sides -- Washington and Moscow -- building and arming so many nuclear weapons that each side painted itself into a corner. Hockey violence is the same; some guy takes advantage of a smaller player, and some other guy -- a team member of that smaller player -- will come along and do the same thing to the guy who took advantage of his teammates.

Why is all this valid? Because hockey has and accepted its own culture of retaliation and redemption. There's nothing finer than scoring a game-winner in overtime after some guy takes a whack at you and watches you score the winner from the penalty box.

Problem is, by inviting and condoning violence in the game, that means that sometimes players go too far. Like tonight.

Had Chris Simon's stick hit Ryan Hollweg about six to twelve inches lower, it could have damaged Hollweg's ability to breathe and might have very well killed him. And for what? For a relatively hard but clean body-check? After the game, when Chris Simon was interviewed, he acknowledged his action -- and the subsequent, instant removal of him from the game -- guaranteed he'd face a long suspension from the NHL. What had happened, however, if his clothes-line of Ryan Hollweg actually was fatal?

Any time I watch cartoon violence -- the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote; Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd; the World Wresting Federation; or the Bobby Brown/Whitney Houston reality show -- it's designed to titilate but in a humorous, entertaining way. Seeing Chris Simon swing at Ryan Hollweg's head reminded me that all the clean hitting during the game are part of the game, and Simon's action was really repulsive. I've been on the receiving end of some of those types of cheap shots and dirty actions. I've gotten slew-footed, tripped, checked and hit with elbows and cross-checked into the boards, other players and the opposing goaltender. I've also returned the favor on occasion, although a guy on my old team, "Meat," used to insure no one messed with us, even though on occasion other teams occasionally did.

But seeing what I saw tonight reminded me that players who normally remain poised and in control aren't always able to bottle their emotions and know how their actions could not only injure but really hurt.

It's closer to the edge, if not over the edge completely.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Goin' Mobile

Much like the Who song from 30+ years ago, today marks the first HoB post composed and uploaded via BlackBerry. Normally I'm one of the first adopters of technology, but Blackberry (aka Crackberry) never really blew my skirt up until I realized that it's less than $45 a month for the service, nearly perfect, and will allow me to get twice as much done in half the time while out and about, which, if you've been paying attention, is fairly often. What I really like is the fact this one, the 8800, doesn't come with a camera or games, just applications for e-mail, the net and office-related productivity. It automatically downloads all my e-mail so I can avoid 20 minute conversations with clients where a thirty-second e-mail would suffice, and so on. It's a new toy, but really it's anything but. In other words, me rikey ;-)

Oops...this is my stop...more to come...


Saturday, March 03, 2007

What Would You Say...

Finally, a weekend arrives to satiate my sanity...

March 1st, our filing deadline, came upon us like it always does -- full speed without remorse or pity. Thankfully, like the well-oiled machine we are, we managed to get everything -- or nearly everything -- submitted to the City without too many bumps along the way. Since this deadline isn't directly tied into my specific end of the business, I had some other stuff to juggle on the side, but it turns out that the City agency with which I deal on a regular basis relocated within their building so they were basically in lockdown mode, meaning they didn't have much contact with the public over the past month, so as a result I was able to devote nearly all of my attention to helping out with the office deadline.

And while we got everything in, as I indicated above, now that it's past and we hit our mark, I get to go back to my regular, day-to-day existence of dealing with the agency that keeps me busy. They were, realistically, out of touch for about a week, but between the phone numbers changing, the physical move they underwent and the quasi-chaotic nature of that kind of relocation, they haven't missed me any more than I missed them while I focused full-throttle on the deadline. Now that we're finished, they're -- hopefully -- back to their normal, everyday operation and this speed-bump was a well-timed respite for us all.

Meanwhile, there's lots happening in and around my world. Kaia has been balls-to-the-wall planning for her event tonight, and it looks like it will be a big success. There's lots of little details to handle, as there always seems to be with parties of that magnitude, and while we haven't been able to spend as much time devoted to one another as we normally do, I understand as I know how the last few days before a big event become filled with frenetic, urgent, nonsensical bullshit. When we throw one of our parties, it's 150 people in relax mode, just looking to have fun; on her end, this party will be over ten times that, replete with issues that have to be handled with an entire security staff (we have four security people), a series of rooms and areas (we have one giant room), and bracelets indicating which ticket level attendees have purchased (we have two levels -- either you paid to get in or you didn't, in which case hit the pavement, Spanky). My point is, despite the fact that our parties don't approach the significance of the one she's handling for tonight, I understand how much goes into pulling it off -- no matter the magnitude -- so instead of petulantly complaining about her being so busy, it's all I can do to try and keep her sane ahead of the actual arrival of guests, and the guest of honor. Remarkably, she's kept it together really well, and while we've commiserated about what's been happening, she's keeping her eye on the prize with her usual poise and aplomb, so while our together-time has suffered, I'm actually really proud of how much she's accomplished despite the hurdles and the bullshit she's faced.

In other news, our business cell service has been a source of quasi-aggravation. Verizon, our cell provider, has somehow managed to sneak charges onto our bill and while we don't pore over each monthly statement they furnish to us, we recently got a bill that was about 20% higher than usual, so I spent a couple hours going through it with Skippy, the Verizon Wireless account rep. Sure 'nuff, they had a variety of little charges that had no business being on our account, like roadside assistance (for $10 a month they -- in theory -- will allow the user to get gas delivered to them if they run out and credit for towing of 50 miles). It's really a nice idea -- except they stuck it on an account for someone who lives in NYC, doesn't own a car and takes road trips three times a year, if at all. So that came off pronto.

On top of that, they added similarly useless stuff onto my father's cell package, so now he can send unlimited text messages and enjoy V-Cast (a sort of multi-media broadcast package). Except he doesn't know what a text message is, let alone how to send one, and has no interest in V-Cast, let alone any interest in learning to use it. So that came off as well.

Then there's my sister's phone, which is about two years old and in need of replacement. So sometime this week we'll go to a Verizon store and procure her a new one, probably the Motorola KRZR, which is like a taller, thinner Razor. We'll address that in the next few days.

And then there's my situation. Odds are that, with my phone expiring later in the month (on my birthday, actually), and my battery dwindling so much that I barely make it through a day without having to recharge, I'm probably going to go with a Blackberry. I spoke to some of my friends who have Motorola Q dataphones, and they all have a lot of positive things to say about them. But when I spoke to a Verizon tech guy, he told me to wait six months because of all the bugs and problems they've been having with them. So it looks like Blackberry will be the way to go. As a result, I've had to convert all my data from the Palm Desktop to Microsoft Outlook -- no simple step, actually -- in anticipation of the new Blackberry. Incidentally, the concept -- at least for me -- behind getting a Blackberry is simple: I'm spending shitloads of time outside the office seeing clients, inspecting buildings on-site, and spending more and more time at City agencies, and having Blackberry means I can communicate with the office, and, more importantly, clients, without having to be on the phone all the time. I can e-mail with updates, receive e-mail, and keep myself and the office in the loop of what I'm doing, where I'm at, where I'm going and handle the impromptu emergency that pops up. It's true that I could do all that with any regular cell phone, but the difference is that having it all stream to me via a Blackberry -- in writing -- means I can keep it all organized, scheduled and efficient, and reduce the number of minutes I need to be on the phone, which leaves me to focus more on the actual day-to-day stuff I need to address. The other nice thing is that, while having a BB won't enable me to surf all over the Internet, I will be able -- on the fly -- to access the City websites I use on a daily basis, so I'll be able to keep tabs on everything I need to see/hear/know without having to call my office for updated info. I keep my soon-to-be retired Palm relatively current, but since that's been giving me issues as well -- the Palm itself has, since I got it two years ago, been quasi-unreliable but now the hardware is nearly shot -- getting a Blackberry will also allow me to keep all my office data -- contacts, datebook, spreadsheets and files/attachments -- handy and available 24-7.

Inasmuch as I'm looking forward to getting one of these devices, I know that in six months -- if not sooner -- there will be something that will be better, slicker and easier to use than the unit I'm getting that I'll want to procure. However, more and more, I'm seeing that the device I'm using is increasingly irrelevant; it's all about staying in constant communication with the office, with clients and with City people. And having a BB -- even one without a camera, without an mp-3 player and without voice recording -- will enable me to do that. So I'm kinda jazzed.

Finally, to come full circle, I spoke with a friend who advised me that she discovered one of her semi-ex's -- someone with whom she dated briefly but with whom she never got seriously involved -- was hired on a semi-temporary basis to be one of the doormen in her building. When I initially heard this, I was floored by how ironic it was/is that this was happening. But after some time to reflect, I actually think it's a good idea; most doormen are relatively friendly but they have ulterior motives: most do as much as they can to help various residents based on the eventual tips they expect to receive therefrom on Christmas. So having a semi-ex -- especially one with whom the relationship ended in a relatively friendly, amicable way -- as a doorman might seem awkward and difficult but, overall, not too bad a development. Although, I'll admit my hypocrisy and confess that if an ex of mine -- one specific one, not any thereof -- happened to move to my building, I'd move that same day. But in this particular situation, the irony is more humorous than anything else. Suffice to say that the irony is mostly humorous to people that don't have to experience it firsthand.

Finally, based on the fact that the weather seems to have warmed up in a big way in NYC, so I'm looking forward to going outside and play. Chicago's got snow, parts of Cali have rain, and the south/midwest have tornadoes...and New York is 45 and sunny. Go figure.